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robertogreco : exceptionalism   9

The Equality Trust | Working to improve the quality of life in the UK by reducing economic inequality
[See also:
(book) "The Spirit Level"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spirit_Level_(book)
The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better[1] is a book by Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett,[2] published in 2009 by Allen Lane. The book is published in the US by Bloomsbury Press (December, 2009) with the new sub-title: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger.[3] It was then published in a paperback second edition (United Kingdom) in November 2010 by Penguin Books with the subtitle, Why Equality is Better for Everyone.[4]

The book argues that there are "pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption".[5] It claims that for each of eleven different health and social problems: physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies, and child well-being, outcomes are significantly worse in more unequal countries, whether rich or poor.[1] The book contains graphs that are available online.[6]

In 2010, the authors published responses to questions about their analysis on the Equality Trust website.[7] As of September 2012, the book had sold more than 150,000 copies in English.[8] It is available in 23 foreign editions.

"The Spirit Level authors: why society is more unequal than ever"
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/09/society-unequal-the-spirit-level

[follow-up book] "The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Wellbeing"
https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/188607/the-inner-level/
Why is the incidence of mental illness in the UK twice that in Germany? Why are Americans three times more likely than the Dutch to develop gambling problems? Why is child well-being so much worse in New Zealand than Japan? As this groundbreaking study demonstrates, the answer to all these hinges on inequality.

In The Spirit Level Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett put inequality at the centre of public debate by showing conclusively that less-equal societies fare worse than more equal ones across everything from education to life expectancy. The Inner Level now explains how inequality affects us individually, how it alters how we think, feel and behave. It sets out the overwhelming evidence that material inequalities have powerful psychological effects: when the gap between rich and poor increases, so does the tendency to define and value ourselves and others in terms of superiority and inferiority. A deep well of data and analysis is drawn upon to empirically show, for example, that low social status is associated with elevated levels of stress, and how rates of anxiety and depression are intimately related to the inequality which makes that status paramount.

Wilkinson and Pickett describe how these responses to hierarchies evolved, and why the impacts of inequality on us are so severe. In doing so, they challenge the conception that humans are innately competitive and self-interested. They undermine, too, the idea that inequality is the product of 'natural' differences in individual ability. This book sheds new light on many of the most urgent problems facing societies today, but it is not just an index of our ills. It demonstrates that societies based on fundamental equalities, sharing and reciprocity generate much higher levels of well-being, and lays out the path towards them.

"Does inequality cause suicide, drug abuse and mental illness?"
https://www.economist.com/books-and-arts/2018/06/14/does-inequality-cause-suicide-drug-abuse-and-mental-illness

"“The Inner Level” seeks to push that debate forward, by linking inequality to a crisis of mental health. This time the authors’ argument focuses on status anxiety: stress related to fears about individuals’ places in social hierarchies. Anxiety declines as incomes rise, they show, but is higher at all levels in more unequal countries—to the extent that the richest 10% of people in high-inequality countries are more socially anxious than all but the bottom 10% in low-inequality countries. Anxiety contributes to a variety of mental-health problems, including depression, narcissism and schizophrenia—rates of which are alarming in the West, the authors say, and rise with inequality.

Manifestations of mental illness, such as self-harm, drug and alcohol abuse and problem gambling, all seem to get worse with income dispersion, too. Such relationships seem to apply within countries as well as between them. Damaging drug use is higher in more unequal neighbourhoods of New York City, in more unequal American states and in more unequal countries. The authors emphasise that it is a person’s relative position rather than absolute income that matters most. A study of 30,000 Britons found that an individual’s place in the income hierarchy predicted the incidence of mental stress more accurately than absolute income did. And in America, relative income is more closely linked to depression than absolute income. It is not enough to lift all boats, their work suggests, if the poshest vessels are always buoyed up more than the humblest.

The fact that relative status matters so much is a result of human beings’ intrinsically social nature, Ms Pickett and Mr Wilkinson argue. Group interaction and co-operation have been an essential component of humanity’s evolutionary success; indeed, the authors say, its social nature helped drive the growth of human brains. Across primates, they write, the size of the neocortex—a part of the brain responsible for higher-level cognitive functions—varies with the typical group size of a species. Living in complex social groups is hard cognitive work. Survival requires an understanding of roles within the social hierarchy, and intuition of what others are thinking. Thus people are necessarily sensitive to their status within groups, and to social developments that threaten it.

Such hierarchies are found in all human societies. But as inequality rises, differences in status become harder to ignore. There is more to be gained or lost by moving from one rung on the ladder to another. And however much some maintain that disparities in pay-cheques do not correspond to differences in human worth, such well-meaning pieties feel hollow when high-rollers earn hundreds or thousands of times what ordinary folk take home. Money cannot buy everything, but it can buy most things. The steeper the income gradient, the less secure everyone becomes, in both their self-respect and their sense of the community’s esteem.

And so people compensate. They take pills, to steel their nerves or dull the pain. Some cut themselves. Some adopt a more submissive posture, avoiding contact with others. Yet such withdrawal can feed on itself, depriving recluses of the social interaction that is important to mental health, undermining relationships and careers and contributing to economic hardship.

Others respond in the opposite way, by behaving more aggressively and egotistically. Studies of narcissistic tendencies showed a steep increase between 1982 and 2006, the authors report; 30% more Americans displayed narcissistic characteristics at the end of the period than at the beginning. Scrutiny of successive American cohorts found a progressive rise in those listing wealth and fame as important goals (above fulfilment and community). Over time, more people cited money as the main motivation for attending college (rather than intellectual enrichment).

Domineering responses to anxiety are associated with loss of empathy and delusions of grandeur. Thus highly successful people often display narcissistic or even psychopathic behaviour. In surveys, the rich are generally less empathetic and more likely to think they deserve special treatment than others. Modern capitalism, the authors suggest, selects for assertiveness, for a lack of sentimentality in business and comfort in sacking underlings, and for showy displays of economic strength. From the top to the bottom of the income spectrum, people use conspicuous consumption and other means of enhancing their image to project status.

The least secure are often the most likely to exaggerate their qualities. For example, countries with lower average life-expectancy tend to do better on measures of self-reported health; 54% of Japanese say they are in good health compared with 80% of Americans, though the Japanese live five years longer on average. Whereas 70% of Swedes consider themselves to be above-average drivers, 90% of Americans do. Such figures cast declamations of America’s greatness, and the politicians who make them, in a new light."

"The Inner Level review – how more equal societies reduce stress and improve wellbeing"
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/20/the-inner-level-review ]

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BmquJ7Ngvme/ ]
equality  inequality  society  trust  anxiety  well-being  stress  mentalhealth  uk  economics  community  socialmobility  class  education  drugs  drugabuse  health  violence  illness  consumption  hierarchy  horizontality  mentalillness  status  self-harm  gambling  depression  narcissism  schizophrenia  relativity  excess  cooperation  egotism  selfishness  empathy  dunning–krugereffect  greatness  politics  lifeexpectancy  japan  sweden  us  driving  capitalism  latecapitalism  fame  fulfillment  money  motivation  colleges  universities  exceptionalism  assertiveness  aggressiveness  richardwilkinson  katepickett  growth  erichfromm 
august 2018 by robertogreco
OHCHR | Statement on Visit to the USA, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights*
[See also:

"A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America"
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/15/america-extreme-poverty-un-special-rapporteur

"Extreme poverty in America: read the UN special monitor's report"
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/15/extreme-poverty-america-un-special-monitor-report

"Trump turning US into 'world champion of extreme inequality', UN envoy warns"
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/15/america-un-extreme-poverty-trump-republicans ]

[Thread by Allen Tan:
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/942934883244171264

"if a progressive party wanted to build a platform for 2020, it could just copy paste this

if a newsroom wanted to cover US poverty in a systematic and rigorous way, here is the blueprint

this is how you make a case for a social safety net when you don't assume that everyone is already on board with you ideologically

1) human rights
“the US is alone among developed countries in insisting that while human rights are of fundamental importance, they do not include rights that guard against dying of hunger, dying from lack of access to affordable healthcare, or growing up in…total deprivation.”

2) debunking myth of poor people as lazy or scammers
“poor people I met from among the 40 million living in poverty were overwhelmingly either persons who had been born into poverty, or those who had been thrust there by circumstances largely beyond their control such as…”

“…physical or mental disabilities, divorce, family breakdown, illness, old age, unlivable wages, or discrimination in the job market.”

3) disenfranchisement in a democratic society (just gonna screengrab this one)

4) children
“In 2016, 18% of children – some 13.3 million – were living in poverty, with children comprising 32.6% of all people in poverty.”

etc, etc, etc

stay for the extended section on homelessness and its criminalization

re: drugs testing [screen capture]

treating taxation as a dirty word and third rail means the state must raise money on the backs of the poor [screen capture]

Ok one last thing and then I’m done:
notice how you can talk about poverty and not make it just about white people, weird"]
philipalston  us  poverty  un  himanrights  policy  politics  inequality  2017  donaldtrump  mississippi  alabama  california  puertorico  housing  georgia  exceptionalism  democracy  employment  work  socialsafetynet  society  incarceration  warondrugs  criminalization  children  health  healthcare  dentalcare  disability  race  racism  fraud  privatization  government  governance  environment  sustainability  taxes  taxreform  welfare  hunger  food  medicare  medicaid  chip  civilsociety  allentan  journalism  homeless  homelessness 
december 2017 by robertogreco
New Sentences: From ‘Lower Ed,’ by Tressie McMillan Cottom - The New York Times
"We are a nation obsessed, from our founding documents on, with radical individualism. Our revolutionary forefathers, we are taught, heroically untethered us from the weight of collective history, and so we imagine ourselves as exceptions — totally unlike, say, Italians or Brazilians or Indians, who are pushed and pulled by historical tides from which we are magically exempt."
tressiemcmillancottom  samanderson  2017  exceptionalism  individualism  collectivism  history 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Recoil Operation – The New Inquiry
"Gun violence is an undeniable problem in the United States, but as with so many social issues, our perception of it is constrained by a deeply ingrained chauvinism, an American exceptionalism that is both self-righteous and hypocritical. “Gun violence” is our embarrassment, as a “developed nation,” as civilized, advanced, and wealthy. And so we divide the rest of the world between two categories. There are states with fewer gun deaths than ours, with whom we imagine ourselves as being on a parallel plane of sophistication, and whose superior track record shames us. And there are the squalid, undeveloped hellholes with more gun deaths than ours. We might make billions destabilizing their regimes and flooding their borders with weapons, but our complicity in that violence is not what shames us. Our shame is the fear that “we” might somehow be like “them.”"



"For her part, Hillary Clinton has called for a renewed Assault Weapons Ban, to keep “weapons of war off our streets.” She has also backed a lawsuit by the families of Sandy Hook shooting victims against Remington Arms, whom, the suit alleges, marketed the AR-variant used in the massacre “in a militaristic fashion.” Of course, in her role as Secretary of State, Senator Clinton approved the sale of thousands of assault rifles to our “partners” in Iraq and Afghanistan, including a 2011 contract of $4.2 million for Remington specifically. The outrage is over whose “streets” such weapons wind up on, and where the “militarism” of the arms industry comes to roost.

All of this means that connections between America’s implication in violence abroad and violence at home are foreclosed from the get-go; the more troubling answers to the question of how “a weapon used in Vietnam and streets of Fallujah” ended up in an elementary school Connecticut are easily deferred when blame can be tidily left at the door of a single manufacturer. But we shouldn’t be surprised. The American capacity to wash our hands of blood while simultaneously pointing fingers is nonpareil; when it comes to small arms, our exceptionalism is so much NIMBYism. Not on “our” streets – but yes, by all means, on yours.

* * *

One of the basic things any firearm must do is manage the energy generated when a bullet is fired.

A cartridge’s primer is struck, propellant ignites, and a bullet flies forward down the barrel. Per Newton’s Third Law, this controlled detonation and forward momentum entails a correlative momentum in the opposite direction, the felt force experienced as recoil. Mitigating this recoil is vital to maintaining a shooter’s accuracy, and is thus an important part of firearms design.

Rifles like the AR-15 offer extremely high velocity coupled with comparatively low recoil. Explosive forward motion is ingeniously harnessed, contained, leveraged. Rounds are sent rushing out and forward, again and again, and “kick” is minimized.

In its perfection of these mechanics, the AR-15 embodies a quintessentially American fantasy for engaging the world: maximum impact, minimum pushback, all bundled up in sleek aesthetics and sold at a hefty profit margin. America’s rifle is thus an overdetermined object: the symbol of the violence we visit on others, and which we thrive on exporting. We are accustomed to standing on one side of it, the right side; we expect to have our finger on the trigger, or to be standing behind the counter and taking a check in return. Only when we imagine being on the wrong end of our own icon, when we envision the AR coming home to America, to do to us what it is has done to others abroad, only then, do we recoil."
us  capitalism  society  policy  chauvinism  exceptionalism  2016  ptrickblacnhfield  via:javierarbona  guns  violence 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Myth Of Western Civilization - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic
"Democracy is a struggle, not a trophy and not a bragging right. This is not a matter of being polite and sensitive. It is understanding that we live on the edge of the volcano, that the volcano is in us. Judt is keenly aware that late 20th century Europe's accomplishments could be wrecked by the simple actions of men.



I don't have any gospel of my own. Postwar, and the early pages of Bloodlands, have revealed a truth to me: I am an atheist. (I have recently realized this.) I don't believe the arc of the universe bends towards justice. I don't even believe in an arc. I believe in chaos. I believe powerful people who think they can make Utopia out of chaos should be watched closely. I don't know that it all ends badly. But I think it probably does.

I'm also not a cynic. I think that those of us who reject divinity, who understand that there is no order, there is no arc, that we are night travelers on a great tundra, that stars can't guide us, will understand that the only work that will matter, will be the work done by us. Or perhaps not. Maybe the very myths I decry are necessary for that work. I don't know. But history is a brawny refutation for that religion brings morality. And I now feel myself more historian than journalist."
tanehisi-coates  2013  religion  chaos  democracy  westerncivilization  history  journalism  historians  morality  tonyjudt  philrobertson  patriarchy  doomsayers  power  sexism  nationalism  certainty  soloutionism  civilization  exceptionalism 
january 2014 by robertogreco
IASC: The Hedgehog Review - Volume 15, No. 3 (Fall 2013) - Raising the Awesome Child - Diane M. Hoffman
"What does this focus on raising “amazing” children mean? How did the cultivation of such children become the agenda for so much of what is now called parenting? What are the implications for parents, children, and society? Those are the questions I propose to examine here—and, in doing so, show how parenting has become both a form of culture and an important domain of activity that transforms contemporary culture."



"Our hyper-intensive parenting culture actually diminishes the ability of parents to see their own children with anything approaching a healthy realism or objectivity. Without fully recognizing it, parents are subtly indoctrinated into seeing their children as reflections of their own superlative parental intentions and efforts. All of those “amazing” children who abound in communities of privilege symbolize a contemporary culture of parenting that places far greater value on parents’ own self-beliefs about who they are as parents than on their children’s attainment of true autonomy or authenticity. In this world, difference itself has become a mark of privilege, perhaps the supreme badge of privilege. Needing to believe their parenting choices are different, parents have lost the clarity to see their children or themselves as the people they truly are—or are striving to be."
parenting  exceptionalism  children  2013  privilege  objectivity  realism  dianehoffman  society  culture 
november 2013 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: If you say "scale up," you don't understand humanity
"The trick to sharing "best practices" is to stop doing that. Instead, share "our practices" and let ideas meet, collide, mix, and take root differently in each place. The trick to "scaling up" is the same - stop trying. If BMW has to "Americanize" their cars in order to sell them in the United States (adding cup holders, etc), what makes people like Intel or the KIPP or TFA foundations so arrogant as to imagine that they can replicate themselves among vastly different communities?

Instead we imagine, attempt, describe, converse. We pass along concepts, not plans. We share observations, not blueprints. We accept that whether it is a child or a school, we can not evaluate anything with a checklist or a score, but only with very human description.

That's a less rational world which requires more humane effort, and it contains troubling mountains and deep valleys because it is not flat. But it is the world in which we actually live."
heartofdarkness  wine  diversity  differences  norming  norms  standardization  rttt  nclb  arneduncan  benjamindistraeli  williamgladstone  cottonmather  hybridization  worldisflat  universaldesign  scalingup  scalingacross  germany  france  uk  us  americanization  localism  local  teaching  learning  unschooling  deschooling  comparativeeducation  blueprints  society  americanexceptionalism  exceptionalism  reform  britisshemprire  thomasfriedman  assimiliation  cooexistence  frenchcolonialism  terroir  deborahfrieze  margaretwheatley  anglocentrism  decolonization  colonization  humanscale  human  scaling  scale  education  schools  2012  irasocol 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Bill Maher’s “Real Time” education debate failure - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post
"…a more important consideration of ranking and American exceptionalism may be the following data from David Morris about where the U.S. does rank No. 1:

• CEO pay compared to average worker pay.
• Income for top 0.1%
• Military spending
• Prisons per 100,000 population
• Murders per 100,000 population
• Health care costs as % of GDP
• Infant mortality per 1000 live births
• (As a reverse number one, meaning we are at the bottom) Social spending on families as % of GDP
• % children living in poverty, compared to like countries
• % experiencing homelessness from 1990-2006, compared to like countries

These are some of our exceptionalities because it is what we tolerate. To be blunt, we have corrosive and negative attitudes — as well as contradictory attitudes — about education because we do not want to face the fact of our country, the inequity and the real accountability that should be aimed at the top."
teaching  politics  policy  us  exceptionalism  2011  paulthomas  davidmorris  priorities  wealth  inequality  scapegoating  education  publicschools  poverty  plthomas 
may 2011 by robertogreco

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